An Interview With Shaun Fleming of Diane Coffee and Foxygen

Punchland: Let’s just take two things out of the way: Diane Coffee has nothing to do with Twin Peaks and the full title of the record is in fact “My Friend Fish (based on the novel Push by Sapphire).” Right? Your Wikipedia page is pretty hilarious.

Shaun Fleming: Ha ha ha, yeah the Wikipedia page is pretty crazy right now. As you said, not a Twin Peaks reference and most certainly not based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

Punchland: But, seriously, who is Diane Coffee? In the record you played everything, right? Tell us a little bit about your vision for this project. Where did the inspiration come from?

Shaun Fleming: To me, Diane Coffee is my embodiment of the performer. The first attempt of telling my own story. Music has always been a big part of my life and I’ve been writing and recording for a long time now. When the songs were recorded I had no intention of putting anything out. We had two weeks off between tours and I just figured I’d record during my break… Business as usual. After the following tour I showed the music to a friend of mine who insisted that I release the songs in some capacity. Diane Coffee was born. Most of the songs on this record where about my experience of moving to New York and of the people that I left behind.


Punchland: What’s the reflection of that in the creation of the music and lyrics?

Shaun Fleming: I’d say the songs and lyrics came more from the isolation of sickly living in a small New York apartment and not really knowing anyone than the actual move itself. I don’t know if I was cut out for life in the big city. I moved out pretty quickly after the following tours. Living in Indiana now. I think it was the quiet and the green I missed most.

Punchland: Hence My Friend Fish as the title of the album.

Shaun Fleming: At the time it seemed to me that living in a small, cramped, dirty Manhattan apartment felt very much like living in a fishbowl. I felt a kinship with my fellow fishes

Punchland: I read somewhere that you were recording with some DIY instrumentation for My Friend Fish. Did these limitations worked in the same fashion of happy accidents where the circumstances become fuel for the driving force of creativity?

Shaun Fleming: I guess you could say that. It was definitely a “work with what you got” type situation. Those kind of things always seem to make the recording process more fun… At least for me.

Punchland: Who are your tour mates?

Shaun Fleming: Steve Okonski on keys, Joey Lefitz on drums, Emily panic on bass and Jared Walker on guitar. Half of which are now currently touring with me in Foxygen as well.

Macaulay Culkin and Shaun Fleming side by side.
Macaulay Culkin and Shaun Fleming side by side.

Punchland: Back to your Wikipedia page (I might make some updates there), that Macaulay Culkin reference… Are you guys homies? Is there a child star club I’m not aware of? Is there a message board or something like that where you all  hang out and catch up?

Shaun Fleming: Ha ha ha, I wish. Macaulay, if you’re reading this, we should totally hang out and make records together. I’ll buy the pizza.

Macaulay Culkin and Shaun Fleming side by side again. This is really confusing.
Macaulay Culkin and Shaun Fleming side by side again. This is really confusing.

Punchland: WWWoman is a fantastic track. It reminds me of Shirley Bassey. Like I can see it playing in a James Bond title sequence in the 60’s. Where did the inspiration come from?

Shaun Fleming: Thank you! That track was actually inspired by an ex-girlfriend of my brother’s. Needless to say, she treated him very poorly. It was actually the first song that I wrote for the record. I think being the one song produced by Jonathan Rado had a lot to do with how cool it ended up. He’s got a magic touch to say the least. One of my biggest influences.

Punchland: Now that you are Diane Coffee what happens with Foxygen? What’s your band mates reaction to the project?

Shaun Fleming: They love and fully support Diane. There’s more than enough room for two projects to thrive and I hope to have a lasting career in both!

Punchland: So, what’s next for Shaun Flemming, Diane Coffee and Foxygen?

Shaun Fleming: I’m currently finishing up recording the next Diane Coffee album with the Foxygen sound engineer Tim Smiley. Really excited for what’s to come. Currently on the road with Foxygen supporting their new album …And Star Power. Gonna melt minds.

Tag Brum
Tag Brum

Tag Brum lives in Brooklyn and writes things from a computer whenever wi-fi is available.
You can follow him on Twitter @tagbrum.

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